hide message

Welcome to the Resource Centre

We make it our mission to work with advocates in civil society, business and government to address inequalities of power, seek remedy for abuse, and ensure protection of people and planet.

Both companies and impacted communities thank us for the resources and support we provide.

This is only possible because of your support. Please make a donation today.

Thank you,
Phil Bloomer, Executive Director

Donate now hide message

Japan: Human rights abuses persist in the "foreign trainee" programme

Since 1993, Japan has operated a foreign trainee programme (the Technical Intern Trainee Programme), under which persons from developing countries are employed as technical interns by companies in Japan for a maximum of three years, ostensibly to obtain skills that they can utilize after returning to their countries. At of the end of 2013, there were approximately 155,000 foreign trainnees, most of whom were from China or Vietnam (the running total since 1993 was more than 800,000). Human rights advocates report that abuses are rife in the system, and accuse companies and the government of exploiting foreigners as cheap labour. The Japanese government has announced its plan to expand the system, to increase foreign labour in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Article
5 November 2019

Japan: Legal firm in Yokohama refuses to return passport to Filipino contract worker

Author: Kyodo News

"Yokohama legal firm refuses to return passport to Filipino woman", 4 November 2019

A legal service firm in Yokohama is refusing to give a passport back to a Filipino woman under an employment contract...,preventing her from seeking a new job or returning home...

It is illegal for employers to keep passports of foreigners who live in Japan as technical trainees. But the country has no penal regulations concerning those of other foreigners, with only the labor ministry's guidelines advising employers not to keep them.

The case of the Filipino woman suggests this legal pitfall could potentially put foreign workers in a precarious condition even at a time when Japan is opening its doors wider to them...

...[T]he woman...had been working as an interpreter at the firm, Advanceconsul Immigration Lawyer Office.

...She also claimed that the legal office...has paid only part of her salary.

...Under the contract, the firm would keep her passport and the woman would need permission to retrieve it after making a written request. The office would also determine the manner and period of withholding her passport, she said.

She stopped working at Advanceconsul in early July but it refuses to recognize that she has quit. It has not responded to requests to give back her passport.

...Some other foreign workers also requested Advanceconsul to return their passports, but the firm has not done so. Kanagawa Prefecture's labor committee recognized in September that the firm's refusal to negotiate with the workers over their passports was unfair practice.

The firm has declined to respond to inquiries from Kyodo News.

...There is no movement so far by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to prohibit employers from keeping their foreign workers' passports...

Read the full post here

Item
11 February 2015

Japan: Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, 2014

Author: Human Rights Committee

... Technical intern training programme

16. The Committee notes with concern that, despite the legislative amendment extending the protection of labour legislation to foreign trainees and technical interns, there are still a large number of reports of sexual abuse, labour-related deaths and conditions that could amount to forced labour in the technical intern training programme (arts. 2 and 8). In line with the Committee’s previous concluding observations (see CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 24), the State party should strongly consider replacing the current programme with a new scheme that focuses on capacity-building rather than recruiting low-paid labour. In the meantime, the State party should increase the number of on-site inspections, establish an independent complaint mechanism and effectively investigate, prosecute and sanction labour trafficking cases and other labour violations. ... 28. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs ... 16 ... above.

Read the full post here

Report
11 February 2015

Japan: Report for the Human Rights Committee by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations

Author: Japan Federation of Bar Associations

... The Immigration Control Act revised in July 2009 stipulates measures aiming only at problems that can be urgently responded to among other problems of the Technical Intern Training Programs.91 The revised Act temporarily responded to the international and domestic criticism toward the rampant human rights violations of programs such as the following: trainees and interns are in fact low-paid labourers, their passports and bank books are confiscated during the training period, and they are forced to have mandatory savings. As seen in the following 1) to 4), the situation has not improved at all since July 2010 when the Act came into force. The Technical Intern Training Programs should be abolished. ... (see text starting at page 63)

 

Read the full post here

Article
11 February 2015

Japan: Wrong way to import workers

Author: Japan Times

... While the trainees are covered by Japan’s labor laws, there are widespread reports of long working hours under severe conditions, low and unpaid wages as well as abuses such as trainees being confined or being banned from contacting other trainees. Roughly 80 percent of 2,300 businesses employing trainees covered by the ministry’s 2013 on-site inspections were found to have violated labor regulations, including safety violations and failure to pay minimum legal wages. Whereas the program is supposed to promote transfer of job skills to developing economies through the trainees, many of the employers — mostly small businesses — are said to utilize them as low-cost manual laborers — positions that they have difficult filling with Japanese workers. In pushing to expand the scope of the program, the government plans to tighten oversight of the recipient organizations and companies hiring trainees. A new oversight body would be empowered to carry out on-site inspections of employers, and issue warnings and guidance on labor offenses. Still, experts familiar with the situation doubt if such measures can effectively root out widespread labor violations and abuses of trainees’ rights. ...

Read the full post here

Item
3 February 2015

Japan: Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 2014

Author: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

5. The Committee recalls that in its concluding observations of 2010, it had requested the State Party “to address all the points raised in the present concluding observations”. Other than responses to the three concerns expressed in paragraphs 12, 20 and 21, as found in the State Party’s follow-up document in 2011, there was no reference to the 2010 concluding observations in its report. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party address all the recommendations contained in this document in its next periodic report. ... 8. While noting that some laws include provisions against racial discrimination, the Committee is concerned that acts and incidents of racial discrimination continue to occur in the State party and that the State party has not yet enacted a specific and comprehensive law on the prohibition of racial discrimination which will enable victims to seek appropriate legal redress for racial discrimination (art. 2). ... 12 The Committee is concerned about reports of unequal treatment of migrants in employment and in access to housing. It is also concerned about reports that the rights of foreign technical interns are violated through the non-payment of proper wages, and that these people are subjected to inordinately long working hours and other forms of exploitation and abuse (art. 5). The Committee recommends that the State party reinforce its legislation in order to firmly combat racial discrimination against migrants in employment and access to housing and improve migrants’ employment status, bearing in mind the Committee’s general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens. The Committee also recommends that the State party take appropriate steps to reform the technical intern training programme in order to protect the working rights of technical interns. ... 15. The Committee is concerned about the continued exclusion of non-citizens on the basis of race or nationality from accessing some public places and facilities of general use, such as restaurants, hotels, family public bathhouses and stores, in violation of articles 2 and 5 of the Convention (arts. 2 and 5). The Committee recommends that the State party take appropriate measures to protect non-citizens from discrimination in access to public places, in particular by ensuring effective application of its legislation. The Committee also recommends that the State party investigate and sanction such acts of discrimination and enhance public awareness-raising campaigns on the requirements of the relevant legislation.

Read the full post here

Article
+ 简体中文 - Hide

Author: 德国之声

"老龄化的日本与被剥削的外国劳工", 2014年11月23日

...日本政府推出的"外国人技能实行制度"...承诺外国人能在学习技能的同时挣得工资...研修生...希望离开日本时能带着满口袋的现金,并且习得一门能让他在国内更容易获得工作机会的技能。"我的日本同事总是冲我喊'笨蛋'。" 不愿透露全名的恩先生对法新社如是说。"我感到身心俱疲。"

他所面临的问题并不是日本同事的欺侮,也并非单程就要2小时的通勤路程,或是...一成不变的单调工作。真正的问题在于,他借了一百万日元(约合8700美元)来参加这个项目,这笔钱主要用来支付旅费以及中间人的"中介费"。巨额负债迫使他成为渴求人力的日本建筑工业的"奴隶"。"在赚够钱偿还贷款前我不能离开",他这么说。…

然而,美国国务院的年度《人口贩卖问题报告》已经不止一次点名...日本,批评其"欺骗性的招聘做法"。…日本过去受到的指责包括未支付加班工资、过劳死以及各种骚扰,例如公司尽力限制研修生如厕次数或要求其提供性服务。日本政府驳斥了TTIP滥用外国人力的指责,但承认确实存在一些问题。"这不是奴工制度,"一名移民局官员对法新社说道。"一些参与技能实习制度的研修生确实遭到剥削,但是政府已经对此采取行动。"这名官员坚称,日本政府无力控制中间人的行为,但此类机构并不被允许收受押金。他还补充说明:"雇主也被禁止收走研修生的护照。"…

🚫Read the full post here

Article
+ 繁體中文 - Hide

Author: 德國之聲

"老齡化的日本與被剝削的外國勞工", 2014年11月23日

...日本政府推出的"外國人技能實行製度"...承諾外國人能在學習技能的同時掙得工資...研修生...希望離開日本時能帶著滿口袋的現金,並且習得一門能讓他在國內更容易獲得工作機會的技能。 "我的日本同事總是沖我喊'笨蛋'。" 不願透露全名的恩先生對法新社如是說。 "我感到身心俱疲。"

他所面臨的問題並不是日本同事的欺侮,也並非單程就要2小時的通勤路程,或是...一成不變的單調工作。真正的問題在於,他借了一百萬日元(約合8700美元)來參加這個項目,這筆錢主要用來支付旅費以及中間人的"中介費"。巨額負債迫使他成為渴求人力的日本建築工業的"奴隸"。 "在賺夠錢償還貸款前我不能離開",他這麼說。 …

然而,美國國務院的年度《人口販賣問題報告》已經不止一次點名...日本,批評其"欺騙性的招聘做法"。 …日本過去受到的指責包括未支付加班工資、過勞死以及各種騷擾,例如公司盡力限制研修生如廁次​​數或要求其提供性服務。日本政府駁斥了TTIP濫用外國人力的指責,但承認確實存在一些問題。 "這不是奴工製度,"一名移民局官員對法新社說道。 "一些參與技能實習制度的研修生確實遭到剝削,但是政府已經對此採取行動。"這名官員堅稱,日本政府無力控制中間人的行為,但此類機構並不被允許收受押金。他還補充說明:"雇主也被禁止收走研修生的護照。"…

🚫Read the full post here

Report
2 January 2015

Japan: entry from the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2014

Author: United States Department of State

... Male and female migrant workers from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal, other Asian countries, Uzbekistan, and Poland are subjected to conditions of forced labor, sometimes through the government’s Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program (TTIP). ... The Government of Japan has not, through practices or policy, ended the use of forced labor within the TTIP, a government-run program that was originally designed to foster basic industrial skills and techniques among foreign workers, but has instead become a guest worker program. The majority of technical interns are Chinese and Vietnamese nationals, some of whom pay up to the equivalent of approximately $7,300 for jobs and are employed under contracts that mandate forfeiture of the equivalent of thousands of dollars if workers try to leave. Reports continue of excessive fees, deposits, and “punishment” contracts under this program. Some companies confiscated trainees’ passports and other personal identification documents and controlled the movements of interns to prevent their escape or communication. During the “internship,” migrant workers are placed in jobs that do not teach or develop technical skills—the original intention of the TTIP; some of these workers experience under- or non-payment of wages, have their contracts withheld, and are charged exorbitant rents for cramped, poorly insulated housing that keeps them in debt. ... The TTIP continued to lack effective oversight or means to protect participants from abuse; despite some reforms, NGOs and media reported recruitment practices and working conditions did not improve for interns. The government did not prosecute or convict forced labor perpetrators despite allegations of labor trafficking in the TTIP. ...

Read the full post here

Article
+ 日本語 - Hide

Author: 毎日新聞社説

政府は、人手不足などで入札不調が相次ぐ建設業で、外国人労働者の活用を拡大することを決めた。新興国から実習生を招き、技術を移転する目的で行われている現行の「外国人技能実習制度」について、来年度から東京五輪が開かれる2020年度までの時限措置として、日本で働ける期間を現在の3年から5年に延ばす。また、介護や家事支援といった分野も、新たにこの制度の対象業種に含めることを検討する。

 産業界に外国人活用への要望は強い。だが、技能実習制度は賃金不払いや長時間労働を強いるなど違法行為が後を絶たず、安く働かせる都合のいい制度になっている。労働者としての待遇を保障するため、まず制度を抜本的に見直す必要がある。

 技能実習制度は1993年に導入され、現在は15万人が機械・金属や繊維、農業といった仕事に携わる。ただ、雇い主が旅券や預金通帳を強制的に預かるなどの問題が国会で取り上げられ、海外でも批判された。政府は制度拡大にあたり、監督の強化、実習生の公的機関への通報制度作り、優良な受け入れ団体への集約などを検討するというが不十分だ。

 制度導入の当初、来日1年目は研修生として労働関係法令が適用されなかったが、その後の法改正で現在は1年目から実習生として労働関係法令が適用される。それでも最低賃金を下回る賃金しか支給されないといった違法な事例が相次ぐ。不正を行った受け入れ先の公表、厳罰化も含め、外国人も法の枠組みで保護される当たり前の制度にしなければならない。…(原文より引用)

🚫Read the full post here

Article
+ 日本語 - Hide

Author: 宮川さおり、共同通信

…「こんな目に遭うために日本に来たんじゃないのに」。実習生として岐阜県内の縫製工場で働いていた中国人女性(41)は、毎月の給料が振り込まれていた口座の通帳を見つめた。中国・上海の縫製工場で働いていた女性は2012年、家族を残し来日した。中国では多い月に日本円で10万円以上の収入があったが「今より稼げる」と聞き、かき集めた六十数万円を紹介機関に支払って来た。

 女性によると、婦人服を作っていた岐阜の工場では、他に中国人実習生7人が働いていた。勤務は1日約15時間、日曜日も夕方まで。残業は月200時間に上り、休みは正月の数日しかなかったという。月給は約12万円。県の最低賃金は現在、時給738円だが、会社からは基本給が5万円、残業代は時給300~400円と説明された。女性は「中国では休みもあった。今は家族とも離れ離れだ」と憤る。

 11月上旬、最低賃金のことを知った女性が是正を求めると突然解雇され、帰国を強制された。女性は、数日のうちに中部国際空港に連れて行かれ、出国ロビーの公衆電話から実習生の支援をする労働組合スタッフに助けを求めた。

 現在、会社には未払い分を請求しているが、交渉は止まったまま。会社は、社長の不在を理由に取材に応じない。こうして支援団体に駆け込んだ実習生も、交渉が長期化して帰国してしまうケースは多い。取材の後、政府の制度拡充政策の話をすると、女性は声を荒らげた。「帰ったらみんなにこう言う。『日本には行くな』と」… 

実習生の人権保護に取り組む「移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク」の 鳥井一平 (とりい・いっぺい) 事務局長の話 労働力不足で外国人の力を借りること自体は否定しないが、技能実習名目でごまかすべきではない。日本人と同じ権利が保障されるきちんとした仕組みで、正規の労働者として受け入れる必要がある。安価な労働力で穴埋めするという人権軽視を許せば、日本の次世代の働き方にも影響を及ぼす。外国人だけの問題ではない。

◎ 外国人技能実習制度 
 
 外国人技能実習制度 習得した技術を母国の経済発展に役立ててもらう趣旨で、外国人実習生を日本の企業などで最長3年間受け入れる制度。1993年に導入、2013年末の実習生は約15万5千人で、中国、ベトナムからが多い。繊維・衣服や機械・金属関係、農業、建設など業種は多岐にわたる。実習生には日本の労働者と同様、労働関係法が適用されるが、人権侵害や賃金不払いの問題が国内外で指摘される。受け入れ拡大を打ち出す政府は実習生保護のためとして、企業に立ち入り調査権限を持つ監督機関を新設する方針。

🚫Read the full post here